Have you ever done this... have you taken a picture of the temperature outside?
Do you regularly... or do you ever... take a snapshot of the temperature inside?
I like to do it every so often and am most aware of it in times of great extremes, as shown in my two pictures, left and right above. It shows the huge range we live with, here in Edmonton as we feel all the feels between -37 and +37 degrees Celsius. And in the middle of it all, our emotions, spirit, and inner self sometimes feels like the middle picture... I know mine does.
I think Alberta should implement a mandatory PST that we have not had, but would go a long way to benefitting the people of this province. Yes, I have advocated for a provincial sales tax in the past but this time I am referring to a Personal Spirit Thermometer. Maybe we could create a new tool that would help each person go through honest, open, self reflection to examine the moral, emotional state of our spirit. We could use that assessment to examine how ready we are to explore greater issues of society that we are facing each day. It could tell us if we need time to be quiet and listen, explore other angles and learn, take time for emotion and lament or jump into action and live into community.
And those are not exhaustive options... as the thermometer tells us, there is a whole spectrum of where we are and a whole host of factors that place us where we are on our journey.
On issues of pandemic response, economy, race, methods and funding of policing, there is so much to explore and navigate. Are we sticking our heads in the sand or looking at that PST to do an honest examination of our own part in the prevailing systems of our society? In the early days of the pandemic I found myself largely in the place of lament and discouragement. I felt the sadness of disconnect from community, the brokenness and vulnerability we were seeing in our support systems, as well as the pain of losing loved ones. I was feeling like I was losing the power to control my own life.
But, as I listen and learn from the voices that are coming to the surface...
from those dying in long term care homes...
from those standing in long lines to submit employment insurance claims...
from those who are being persecuted and killed by the ones we pay to protect...
from the ones on the margins who can not access the services of our privileged society...
my heart continues to break.
Some days I do not know what to do or how to get through it, some days I do not know if I am at the top or bottom end of that PST, but what I must constantly remind myself is that somewhere in the middle of it all, our Creator holds us ALL in His care. More and more I am drawn to Him in a contemplative posture, to listen for His voice, to sit in His presence and rely on the Spirit to help me know that I am like everyone else, created and loved by Him.
I want to encourage you; as pastors, elders, deacons... as congregation members, citizens, treaty people... as privileged, displaced or marginalized... as humans, created by God, Christ followers;
Through prayer, resting in the word, and acting against the injustices we see around us, we can do our small planned part in His great story of transformation.
Stand, sit or lay prostrate; listen to or read the following liturgy by DOUGLAS MCKELVEY:
Liturgy by DOUGLAS MCKELVEY:
In a world so wired and interconnected, our anxious hearts are pummelled by an endless barrage of troubling news. We are daily aware of more grief, O Lord, than we can rightly consider, of more suffering and scandal than we can respond to, of more hostility, hatred, horror, and injustice than we can engage with compassion.
But you, O Jesus, are not disquieted by such news of cruelty and terror and war. You are neither anxious nor overwhelmed. You carried the full weight of the suffering of a broken world when you hung upon the cross, and you carry it still.
When the cacophony of universal distress unsettles us, remind us that we are but small and finite creatures, never designed to carry the vast abstractions of great burdens, for our arms are too short and our strength is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and redemption, are your great labors.
And yes, it is your good pleasure to accomplish such works through your people, but you have never asked any one of us to undertake more than your grace will enable us to fulfill.
Guard us then from shutting down our empathy or walling off our hearts because of the glut of unactionable misery that floods our awareness. You have many children in many places around this globe. Move each of our hearts to compassionately respond to those needs that intersect our actual lives, that in all places your body might be actively addressing the pain and brokenness of this world, each of us liberated and empowered by your Spirit to fulfill the small part of your redemptive work assigned to us.
Give us discernment in the face of troubling news reports.
Give us discernment to know when to pray, when to speak out, when to act, and when to simply shut off our screens and our devices, and to sit quietly in your presence, casting the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up.